Thursday, November 25, 2010

What the Sutherlands Read

I've written elsewhere about the Sutherland family and their reading habits, particularly the likelihood they were familiar with the works of Sir Walter Scott. Here is an example of an actual book that belonged to the family, held by the Lambton Room. Inscribed in the front is "Grace Sutherland, from her father." The 35-page book (titled simply Death: A Poem) was published anonymously in Edinburgh in 1826, and I have been unable to track an identifiable author for it (I'm pretty sure it wasn't TS, Jr., as the style differs, but I wanted to be sure). For anyone who might be interested to know what kind of book Thomas Sutherland (1772-1850) thought suitable for his children, the book can be read online.

Given the date and place of publication, in combination with what would appear to be a limited print-run, it seems likely it was one of the books the Sutherlands brought with them when they first came to Canada, and thus was probably loaned out to various members of the community. I find it melodramatic and a bit sensational at times, but the pressed leaves suggest a more sentimental or melancholy interpretation on the part of an earlier reader.